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College opens doors to new state-of-the-art Smart Factory

June 28, 2019

Today, with the help of collaborative robots Baxter, Sawyer and UR10, Red River College officially opened the doors to its brand new Smart Factory, a state-of-the-art learning facility and applied research space that will directly support Manitoba’s growing aerospace and manufacturing industries, and RRC’s applied research initiatives.

“Red River College has always been at the forefront of emerging technologies. The opening of the Smart Factory ensures that our students are well-equipped to face the challenges that the future workforce may hold, and to thrive in ever-changing environments,” says RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above, at right).

“These expansions have significant impacts in our community and beyond, as we provide unparalleled access to cutting-edge resources for our partners in the aerospace and manufacturing industries.”

Located inside RRC’s new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, the Smart Factory is an experiential learning facility and technology demonstration site. It combines emerging technologies in metals additive manufacturing, collaborative robotics and autonomous factory vehicles, flexible robotic work cells, industrial automation, high-speed 3D laser metrology, industrial networking, and many more.

The new facility will enhance learning at RRC by allowing students to experience and work in factory settings. It will also provide Manitoba companies with access to state-of-the-art equipment, research and innovation expertise, and faculty and students — in order to evaluate, develop, demonstrate and implement new and emerging technologies.

The Smart Factory is the result of a $10-million investment — previously announced in 2017 — by the federal government through Western Economic Diversification Canada. In addition to supporting the development of the Smart Factory, this funding also supports the Phase 3 expansion of RRC’s Centre for Aerospace Technology and Training (CATT), located at StandardAero in Winnipeg. Read More →

No cutting corners: Apprenticeship Carpenters showcase skills at annual competition

June 20, 2019

It was a race against the clock, but the contestants who took their time fared best at Red River College’s annual Carpentry Competition.  

The 25th edition of the contest took place June 7 and 8 in the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre at RRC’s Notre Dame Campus. 

This year’s event featured nine graduates of the College’s Level 4 Carpenter Apprenticeship program, each battling to be the best builder. On day one, the competing carpenters wrote an extensive exam worth 30 per cent of the challenge. Day two of the competition saw contestants tasked with building an elaborate “hug bench” with limited time and materials. 

Alex Mackenzie, of PBR Construction in Niverville, Man., was named the competition’s top carpenter, while Walker Enns and Caleb Gossen finished second and third, respectively. 

“A couple guys went right to the last minute. Actually, the last two guys that finished at the last minute, literally, they placed first and second,” says Jeff Martens, the core instructor of the Level 4 Carpentry Apprenticeship program. 

“It’s amazing, the attention to detail. And of course, detail takes time. They used every second that they had.”

Mackenzie (shown above) won a $1,500 shopping spree courtesy of Bosch, while second and third prize were worth $1,400 and $1,000, respectively. The six other contestants all went home with $500 worth of portable power tools and accessories.  Read More →

Childhood Education, Construction Management grads earn Lt.-Gov.’s medals at Convocation

June 14, 2019

Congratulations to the most recent recipients of Red River College’s Lieutenant-Governor’s Medals for Proficiency, who received their awards as part of our 2019 Spring Convocation ceremonies on June 4 and 5.

Each year, up to four medals are awarded to RRC students who best combine good character, academic and technical achievement, and involvement in College and/or community activities. This year’s winners are:

Adele Petri, Spring ConvocationAdele Petri — Early Childhood Education Workplace

Adele Petri helps kids to be the best they can be.

A graduate of RRC’s Early Childhood Education Workplace program, Petri is a supervisor at Starting Blocks day care centre in Stonewall. In 2015, she co-founded the Stonewall support group Families for Autism Awareness & Support.

In 2014, Petri’s son Tanner was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder.

“When you’re a parent of a child that’s diagnosed with autism, you really aren’t given any direction. You really have to be an advocate for your child,” says Petri, 47.

“There wasn’t a local support group here in town, so that would mean parents would have to travel to the city. Parents are already tired, so we wanted to provide a safe place where they can come.”

Petri says the support group allows families to compare notes on how best to navigate the vast spectrum of autism information and services.

“It goes both ways. I see what the support does for other families and I’m also getting support from them,” she says.

As an early childhood educator, Petri believes her career goes way beyond babysitting.

“You’re there to bring out the best in children and foster all the things children need to flourish,” she says.

Allison Enns, Spring ConvocationAllison Enns — Construction Management

Don’t tell Allison Enns she can’t do something.

After she was told in university to drop every course that had “reading, writing and numbers” because of her learning disabilities, Enns did what anybody would do: she enrolled in the Civil Engineering Program at Red River College.

Years later, Enns is still putting it to her naysayers, having graduated from RRC’s Construction Management program. She is currently working as a site coordinator at Akman Construction.

“I applied to engineering at Red River kind of out of spite, and to prove to them and myself that my learning disabilities don’t define me,” says Enns, 24.

“The school helped me understand my learning disabilities. My GPA skyrocketed from university to Red River because I finally understood how my brain works.”

Enns, who has dyslexia, dyscalculia and ADHD, spoke at RRC’s recent REDx Speaker Series about her struggles and successes with learning disabilities. She was also a member of an RRC advisory group where she helped to create guidelines on how presenters should format workshops so that they’re accessible to everyone.

“Whatever limitations people put on you, your only real limitation is yourself,” she says. “You can be you to get where you want to be.”

Honorary Diploma recipient celebrates lifelong link to RRC

June 5, 2019

Marilyn Kenny, portraitFamilies, friends and guests of Red River College will gather this week to watch their loved ones cross the stage and accept their degrees, diplomas and certificates — signaling the completion of their academic journey as students.

As these 2,000 new grads look ahead to their careers, the College looks back on its history, and proudly announces former board member Marilyn Kenny as this year’s Honorary Diploma recipient.

“Marilyn Kenny has truly demonstrated a lifelong commitment to Red River College, and to learning,” says RRC President Paul Vogt.

“From her dedication to women’s employment initiatives to her work with the development of language training, Marilyn has been working shoulder-to-shoulder with the College for her entire career, and we are honoured to recognize her achievements.”

Kenny will receive her Honorary Diploma in Community Development/Community Economic Development. She now joins the ranks of fellow recipients such as Gail Asper, Ray St. Germain and Ace Burpee — all of whom have demonstrated high standards of excellence in their personal and professional achievements, and whose local, national and international accomplishments qualify them for such a recognition.

“I was honoured and overwhelmed when I learned that I had received the award — I think it was the first time anyone at the College has ever heard me speechless,” says Kenny. “When I look at where my career has taken me, Red River College has always been a part of it in some way or another — and I guess I’ve always been a part of Red River.”

Kenny says her career really began when she tried to help a little girl who’d been in and out of difficult situations and hospitalizations, but was unsuccessful because she didn’t have the proper credentials. She was later devastated to learn the girl had passed away.

Around the same time, she learned of RRC’s Social Welfare Services program, which her husband and family encouraged her to apply for.

“At the time I was driving in from Ashern in the evenings for my classes, but it felt like this was what I was meant to do. Red River College put the wind beneath my wings and gave me what I needed to keep going.” Read More →

Students’ Association launches new space for LGBTTQ+ students and allies

June 2, 2019

Red River College is beaming with pride as it prepares to again celebrate Winnipeg’s LGBTTQ+ community.

More than 100 students, staff and College leaders will walk in this Sunday’s Pride Winnipeg parade — just one of many LGBTTQ-related initiatives that reflect RRC’s ongoing commitment to diversity.

This year’s parade happens to coincide with the opening of The Spectrum, a new RRC Students’ Association (RRCSA) space for members of the LGBTTQ+ community and their allies.

“Red River College is committed to creating a safe campus environment by fostering an atmosphere of respect, equity and support, and ensuring everyone has the chance to work, learn and access services in an inclusive and welcoming manner,” says Christine Watson, RRC’s Vice-President, Academic.

“Participation in events like Winnipeg Pride, and the creation of spaces like The Spectrum are just a few ways we can create more opportunities for students and staff to meet like-minded individuals and allies, feel comfortable talking about their identity and experiences, and build a supportive and inclusive College community.”

Developed by the RRCSA with support from the College, The Spectrum is available for meetings and events aimed at students and allies, and to provide information on internal and external supports relevant to the community.

RRCSA executives say the space’s name was chosen to denote inclusion for everyone, as “The Spectrum” has a double meaning, invoking both the rainbow (a widely used symbol among the LGBTTQ+ community), and the spectrum of gender and sexuality.

“It’s essential for post-secondary institutions to create an environment where students feel safe and are free to interact and share with their community, and be themselves, so we are taking a proactive approach in supporting our marginalized students in a visible manner,” says Carmen McIntosh, the RRCSA’s Vice-President Academic and one of the coordinators of the space.

“The goal with safe(r) spaces like The Spectrum is to provide support to students who may feel as though they have nowhere else to turn. Students can come and meet others who share similar experiences and build a supportive community of allies.” Read More →

Crunching numbers and crushing the competition: Financial planning students set their sights on national challenge

May 28, 2019

For the second year in a row, Red River College Business Administration students have banked a first place victory at the 2019 Western Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFP) Case Challenge Competition, and will now square off against the best in the East next week in Vancouver.

The four students — (shown above, from left) Suzie Nguyen, Ron Eric Venezuela, Scott Lobban and Desiree Huang — and their Financial Services Specialization instructor, Maria Vincenten, have spent countless hours practicing and preparing in the hopes that this year they’ll come home the national champions.

“Students come to Red River College to gain the skills and knowledge that will make them employable,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Competitions like the CIFP Case Challenge provide our students with opportunities to practice problem solving, hone their innovation skills, strengthen their ability to communicate and work within teams, and acquire real-life experience that will ultimately lead them to a successful career.”

“We are so proud of these students and their instructor, who are representing Red River College on the national stage and are truly demonstrating the value of hands-on, applicable learning.”

The CIFP Case Challenge lets students take the skills they’ve learned in the classroom and apply apply them in a fast-paced simulation of a real-world scenario.

Teams of three are sequestered in a room with a copy of a multi-page financial case study, then given just two hours to develop a case analysis, recommendations and an implementation plan.

Once completed, students then have up to 20 minutes to present their findings to a panel of judges (all of them financial services professionals). During this time, students must convince the judges that their solutions are viable and are the best solutions for the case. The team that makes the best and most persuasive case presentation wins. Read More →

SpaRRCky flies: Student-built electric car cracks top 10 at Shell Eco-marathon

April 10, 2019

For the second year running, a team of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology students from Red River College have taken their battery-electric vehicle — dubeed SpaRRCky — to Sonoma, California for the Shell Eco-marathon.

The team beat their personal best, moving from a 14th-place finish last year to seventh overall in the battery electric category. And while this year’s race was ultimately a success, it wasn’t without its challenges.

“Going into our first run was the most nerve-racking part of the competition,” says team captain Joel Turner, an Electrical Engineering Technology student at RRC. “Our first set of available runs had been postponed due to rain, which furthered our nervousness, but as soon as we got off the line it was high fives and smiles all around!”

Nerves aside, the team also had to deal with various technical challenges. During the first run, SpaRRCky’s cover came loose and the team’s driver (Samantha Sousa, a Welding student who also constructed the racer’s steering knuckle) had to pull over for her own safety and the safety of the others on the track.

“Once we got the car back, we quickly brainstormed and fixed the problem on the fly, got SpaRRCky back in line, and were able to make the next run,” says Turner.

Students with battery-electric racerSousa noted that the first run track was the most nerve-wracking part of the competition, thanks in part to the weather.

“The rain was pushing our time slot back and the pavement was slick. I also had not driven SpaRRCky on pavement yet, only in the gym as we still had snow in Winnipeg,” she says.

But the stress didn’t stop there. “After our third run, a housing bolt had become stripped and we could not attempt another run with the vehicle in this condition,” says Turner.

Thanks to the team’s quick thinking and a visit to a local hardware store, they were able to make the fix and move on to the next run and a seventh-place finish. Read More →

RRC becomes province’s first post-secondary to offer credit for Armed Forces experience

April 5, 2019

Red River College has entered into a new partnership that will help Canada’s veterans and current members of the Canadian Armed Forces trade the experience they gained serving our country for a diploma.

As part of the announcement, RRC signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government’s National Advanced Placement & Prior Learning (N-APPL) program, which supports the recognition of military experience in post-secondary settings. Thanks to the agreement, veterans and reservists now have the opportunity to turn their training and experience into academic credits.

“The strength of Red River College is our ability to be agile in meeting student needs and the changing needs of our economy,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “Not only does this partnership formally recognize military service, it allows the College to offer a broad talent pool for employers and open new career paths for Canadians who serve our country.”

The agreement makes RRC the first post-secondary institution in the province to formally acknowledge that skills, training and experience acquired through military service can be applied towards a college diploma.

RRC will pilot the project by fast-tracking veterans and reservists into the second year of its Business Administration program, with plans to expand to other program areas in the future. Read More →

Designer genes: College and partners launch new genetic mapping initiative

March 22, 2019

This week, Red River College became the first educational facility in Western Canada to unveil its own next generation sequencing (NGS) device, thanks to a new partnership aimed at putting the power of genetic mapping in the hands of the general populace.

Genome360 is an initiative launched by not-for-profit group Genome Prairie and a consortium of funding partners, with the goal of building a hub for genomics and phenomics capabilities in the province. Bolstered by a $2.3-million investment, the initiative aims to propel Manitoba to prominence in the genomics sector.

iSeq100 equipmentIncluded in the investment is the College’s new iSeq100, a small but powerful machine — not much bigger than a microwave — that allows for improved DNA mapping and could open up new developments in medicine and agriculture.

Designed for simplicity, the iSeq100 allows labs of all sizes to sequence DNA rapidly and with high accuracy. The equipment will provide RRC students with the hands-on training needed to excel within laboratories and to thrive as practitioners in this growing field.

“One of Red River College’s strengths is having the ability to introduce and train our students on new and emerging technology,” says RRC President Paul Vogt. “The addition of the iSeq100 will ensure that students graduating from RRC will have the knowledge, confidence and experience to meet the needs of industry today, and into the future.”

Also on display at this week’s announcement was a prototype Molecular Biology Interactive Learning Enterprise (MOBILE) lab — developed in partnership with Westward Industries to demonstrate and offer organizations access to field-deployable devices. The electric-powered MOBILE lab (shown above) provides storage, transport and sufficient workspace to bring the laboratory into the field or the classroom.

“The Genome360 initiative provides a unique combination of capacity and expertise for the wide distribution and democratization of advanced genetic technologies in the province of Manitoba and beyond,” says Dr. Simon Potter, Genome Prairie’s Chief Scientific Officer. “We look forward to working with the community to realize the economic and social benefits inherent in this exciting venture.”

Transportation trailblazer makes milestone $1.5M donation to Red River College

March 15, 2019

A transportation pioneer will help Red River College train the next generation of industry achievers, and ensure the viability of Manitoba’s skilled workforce for decades to come.

Jan den Oudsten — founder and former president of New Flyer Industries, and inventor of leading-edge transit technology — along with his wife, Maria den Oudsten, is donating $1.5 million to RRC, one of the largest gifts the College has ever received from individual donors.

Maria and Jan den Oudsten with RRC President Paul Vogt“I spent much of my life in an industry I am passionate about, and am incredibly humbled to be able to give back and inspire the next generation of learners,” says den Oudsten (shown above, with Maria and son Bob). “Working and living in Winnipeg was the best time of my life. Winnipeg has the best bus builders in the world, and it is my hope that with this gift that reputation of excellence can continue for many more years.”

RRC is celebrating the transformative gift by officially renaming its Heavy Equipment Transportation Centre. The 60,000-sq.-ft. training and research facility will now be proudly known as the Jan den Oudsten Vehicle Technology & Research Centre (VTRC).

The expansive complex was built in 2008, and was one of the first education centres in Manitoba to receive LEED® Silver certification from the Canada Green Building Council. Every day, close to 170 students at VTRC are trained in transportation technology programs such as Heavy Duty Mechanic, Truck Transport Mechanic (apprenticeship), Trailer Mechanic (apprenticeship), Outdoor Power Equipment (certificate and apprenticeship) and specialized training for General Motors.

VTRC also works with industry partners such as New Flyer to drive applied research in vehicle technology and development, and to support the transportation industry on energy conservation and alternatives (such as electrification), cold-weather testing and technology integration. Read More →